Andover 59 Trojans 20

ANDOVER continued to push forward in their quest for a first-ever promotion to level six of the national rugby pyramid with a nine-try destruction of Trojans.

Saxon Safety-sponsored Andover welcomed two new signings full back Mitch Needham and stand off Matt Ryan for this one, and both impressed with Ryan coming off the bench to grab a neat brace of tries and controlling the game on the gain line.

Needham too grabbed a try of his own in a sparkling display, adding even more pace to an already electric Andover back division.

Andover began the game slowly and made a few errors to give Trojans an early lift. The visitors were wide with a penalty, but soon took the lead when their standoff danced through an unusually hesitant Andover defence.

The All Blacks responded immediately and in some style.

A superb break by the impressive Jake Dixon led to a ruck from which Niko Rowe put Needham in for his first Andover try with Rich Retallick converting superbly from wide out.

Soon after Trojans re took the lead with a penalty before Andover finally began to take control.

On 20 minutes Callum Hollinshead again cleverly combined with Tom Waite to send the hooker over and minutes later scrum half Ioan Gwynne Davies went through a gap and won a thirty meter race to the line, with Retallick on target both times.

Tom Erskine was then held up over the line from a catch and drive before Needham set Stan North away on a fifty-meter counter, with the giant center running over the Trojans defence to finish.

Just before the break Andover put the game out of sight when man of the match Ryan McGealy took his umpteenth lineout to set Erskine up to make amends for his earlier close call.

After the break with prop Stan Pearson now in the fray, Andover continued to pile on the pressure. A fine break from Jack Stott allowed Ryan to glide under the posts for his first try before the same player interchanged with Gwynne Davies to complete his brace.

Andover welcomed back Bryn Waite from long term injury to add even more pace to the game. 

Next up was a breathtaking try. A wonderful break from the ever impressive Rowe set Harrison Pape away and he needed no second bidding to complete the score.

Trojans to their credit struck back with a score from a catch and drive but Andover then completed their scoring with another great effort.

Erskine fed the excellent Stott on half way and the flying winger rolled back the years to canter under the posts, with Retallick grabbing his seventh conversion of the day.

Trojans did manage one more consolation score at the end of the game but it didn't dampen the celebrations as Andover march on.

Afterwards director of rugby Andy Waite said: "I thought after a slow start we played really well today, with Callum Barber Starkey again epitomising what we are about, still sprinting around making big tackles in the 80th minute. Promotion is a complex business if you don't finish top of the league, so we'll see where we are in a couple of weeks, but with this kind of spirit we must be in with a real chance."